Actress Rebel Wilson has broken her silence after it emerged that Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald had planned to out her. 

On Thursday, June 9, Wilson had come out in an Instagram post and introduced her girlfriend LA-based fashion designer Ramona Agruma to the world. “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.”

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The news was well received on social media with her fans and others commending the 42-year-old actress on her courage in coming out. It has however now emerged that the decision to come out was not at a place and timing chosen by Wilson, but was forced on her by Herald’s decision to publish a story on her relationship.

Found My Disney Princess: Rebel Wilson Reveals New Girlfriend

On June 11, Herald said that the newspaper had given Wilson “two days” to comment about her relationship with Arguma or they would go ahead and publish the story. Wilson, however, preempted the report by coming out on social media. 

The newspaper was panned for trying to out Wilson. The actress responded on Twitter on Sunday. “It was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace,” Wilson said. 

Herald Asked Wilson To Respond In Two Days

Actor Hugh Sheridan (centre) said they had played cupid between their friends actress Rebel Wilson (right) and LA-based fashion designer Ramona Agruma.

The article on Saturday appeared under the headline “Rebel Starts Spreading News Of Relationship” in its Sydney Private column. 

“In a perfect world, “outing” same-sex celebrity relationships should be a redundant concept in 2022. Love is love, right?,” the Sydney Morning Herald columnist said. 

The columnist revealed that they had approached the actor to respond to the story of her dating Arguma. 

“As Rebel Wilson knows, we do not live in a perfect world. So, it was with an abundance of caution and respect that this media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with LA leisure wear designer Ramona Agruma, before publishing a single word.”

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The columnist then bemoaned the fact that Wilson chose to take control of the narrative by coming out on social media. 

“Big mistake. Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new “Disney Princess” on Instagram early Friday morning, the same platform she had previously used to brag about her handsome ex-boyfriend, wealthy American beer baron Jacob Busch.” 

“She even had her “bestie”, the actor Hugh Sheridan, doing radio interviews on breakfast FM on Friday morning, during which he gloated about introducing the women to each other six months ago.”

The column then went on to make this incredulous claim. “Up to now, Wilson had identified publicly as a heterosexual woman. It is unlikely she would have experienced the sort of discrimination let alone homophobia – subconscious or overt – that sadly still affects so many gay, lesbian and non-hetero people.”

Did Not Out Wilson, Claims Herald

After being criticised online, the editor penned a note on the issue claiming that “to say that the Herald ‘outed’ Wilson is wrong.” 

“Our weekly Private Sydney celebrity column last week asked Wilson if she wished to comment about her new partner. We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man,” said editor Bevan Shields. 

“Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response. I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.”

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The editor’s note failed to quell the outrage online over the newspaper’s own admission that Wilson opted to “gazump the story” by coming out online. It did not dawn on the newspaper that it was not their story to tell. 

“As a journalist who is openly gay, transitioned from male to female and was outed in my early 20’s, I’m heartbroken to see this still happening today. LGBTIQ+ people go through a lot, and regardless of whether they’re Rebel Wilson, a kid or 80, shouldn’t have to face this,” said 10 News First journalist Kate Doak. 

‘Being Outed Creates Shame, Stigma’

Melbourne-based LGBTQI activist and former executive director of Change.org Australia Sally Rugg responded to the editor’s note. 

“Bevan, to argue that it’s inconsequential whether Wilson was dating a man or a woman is not only laughably disingenuous, it proves you’ve no understanding of the significant harm, often weaponised, of media outing or threatening to out queer people.”

English actor and comedian Matt Lucas said that coming out was a long process for many LGBTQI people. “Coming out is often a long, scary process, with many beats. Self-realisation, telling friends & family, a first relationship. I thought the press forcing people to out themselves, regardless of whether or not they were ready, was a thing of the past. I must have been mistaken,” Lucas said on Twitter.

Switchboard Victoria CEO Joe Ball pointed to the harm that a forcible outing can cause to an LGBTQI person. 

“Rebel Wilson was outed!” said Ball in a post on Twitter. “Coming out has always been part of LGBTIQ+ rights movements, visibility creates acceptance and understanding. Being outed – the inverse, it creates shame, stigma and repression.”

Ball had some advice to people planning to out others – don’t. “Don’t out people, help change the world so no one needs to be in or out,” added Ball.

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